WARWICK — On the heels of leading the program to its first state championship in 17 years and just its fifth all time, East Providence High School boys' outdoor track and field mentor Bob Lyons was chosen by his peers as Coach of the Year.
Lyons, the head coach of the Townies for 14 years, received the honor at the annual Rhode Island Track and Field Awards banquet held Monday, June 17, at the Crowne Plaza Hotel.
"I'm pleasantly surprised. It's a great honor to be recognized," said Coach Lyons. "I didn't do anything differently than I have in the past. It just so happened the kids performed well at the state meet and everything fell into place."
The Townies won their first state championship since 1996 and just the fifth in school history earlier this month in dramatic fashion, rallying in the final event of the meet, the 4x400 meter relay, to claim the title. Senior Josh Rambert recovered from a stumble near the finish line during the anchor leg of the race to eventually cross second and earn enough points to propel E.P. past Bishop Hendricken.
"It means a lot to me to be recognized by my peers. I'm humbled," Coach Lyons continued. "But I'm not stupid. I know it's about the kids. We do the same things every year. Sometimes they work and sometimes they don't. You just try to improve upon the things that haven't worked in the past and emphasize the things that have worked."
Coach Lyons thanked the current EPHS administration and his assistant Mike Almeida for their support this spring. In addition, he said he was gratified to receive congratulatory messages from the likes of Phil Ricci, the EPHS athletic director who hired him for the job, Matt Lopes, a legendary figure in city track and field, and Ed Cronin, his former assistant coach. Coach Lyons also mentioned the influence the late Bill Poland, who coached him in both track and football, had on his career as an athlete and later as a mentor himself.
"I know it sounds corny, but we try to create a family atmosphere around the program. And I'm very appreciative of the support I've received," Coach Lyons added. "It's the kids who make a coach look good, and they certainly did that this year. They're the ones who stepped up. I'm very, very proud of the kids. They deserve the recognition much more than I do."
In addition to the coach of the year award, the Most Valuable Performers from the State Outdoor Meet held June 1 at Brown University were formally recognized as were those athletes who earned first, second and third team All-State honors. East Providence's Ryan Williams, winner of both the boys' 100 and 200 meter state titles, was the Sprints MVP. Also of note, Bob Palazzo, of state champ Classical, was chosen as the girls' Coach of the Year.
Throws - Alva Hicks, Classical. Hicks won the discus competition with her mark of 133 feet, 5 inches (40.66 meters). She also placed fourth in the hammer.
Jumps - Cassie Roberge, Mt. St. Charles. Roberge went 39-9.50 (10.90) to take the triple jump event. She also placed second in the long jump with a leap of 17-9.25 (5.41).
Sprints - Quashira Mc Intosh, Hope.The Blue Wave sophomore aced both sprint events: the 100 and 200 meters. Mc Intosh clocked 12.02 to capture the 100 by nearly a full second. In the 200, “Q” went a state-record 24.44 (0.8w) , topping her own SR of a year ago.
Distance (800m up) - Maddy Berkson, Classical. Berkson defended her 2012 1500-meter title with a thrilling 4:34.27 time. She placed third in both the 800 and 3000 meters, and anchored the Purple’s winning 4x400 relay, thus contributing 32 total points.
Throws - Charlie Ionata, Barrington. The big senior essentially dominated every event in the throws sector. He aced the hammer with a toss of 240 feet, 5 inches (73.27 meters). Ionata finished second in the discus (159-8/48.66), and the javelin (185-11/56.66). He was a fourth-place finisher in the shot put.
Jumps - Lawrence Warwick, Coventry. The Oaker senior won both horizontal jumps. He went 21-11.50 (6.69) to take the long jump, then triple-jumped a winning 45-1 (13.74). He finished second in the high jump at 6-4 (1.93).
Sprints - Ryan Williams, East Providence. As did Mc Intosh in the girls’ portion of the State Meet, the Townies’ Williams aced both sprints in the boys’ championships. He clocked 10.98 in the 100 meters, and went 22.10 to capture the 200.
Distance (800m up) - Bryce Kelley, Chariho. The Charger senior posted a winning 4:00.74 to win the 1500 meters. Kelley came in second in the 800 (1:58.05).